When treating wastes, cell yield is considered because the biosolids produced must be eventually processed. Sludge disposal can be via composting, land application, incinerated, or sent to a landfill. No matter which disposal method is used, the costs of handling solids are of concern.
In selecting between aerobic and anaerobic treatment options, cell yield from influent organics are often considered. For a given substrate (carbon source) the cell yield for anaerobic treatment is between 6 - 10x less than aerobic waste treatment. This reduction in solids production is often used to justify the higher costs of building an anaerobic system.
The yields for an example substrate is given below: Notice that a lightly loaded aerobic system has much lower cell yield than highly loaded systems.
High Loading Conditions - no carbon limitations (high BOD)
1 unit substrate carbon —> 0.5 units CO2 carbon + 0.5 units cell carbon
Low Loading Conditions - liming substrate supply (low BOD)
1 unit substrate carbon —> 0.7 units CO2 carbon + 0.3 units cell carbon
1 unit substrate carbon —> 0.95 units (CO2 + CH4) carbon + 0.05 units cell carbon
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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